One of the most important aspects of making any kind of lifestyle change is to address the challenges and barriers that keep us from accomplishing our goals. We all have barriers to implementing new things; it’s a way that we keep ourselves safe and prevent failure, even if it is subconscious. To push past these barriers, it’s important to name and address them so that you can anticipate the challenges and troubleshoot in advance.
The biggest and most common barrier I see with my patients is time. No matter who you are, you are pressed for time, and it is always a barrier to change. You may think you don’t have time to exercise, get enough sleep, or cook healthy meals. There’s never enough time for our own self-care. But what we often fail to recognize is that time is actually in our control.
Make Yourself a Priority
As I share in my book Hungry for More, time for our own care does not exist. It has to be created. And time for ourselves is only created when we make ourselves a priority. It is created when we value ourselves, and when we set boundaries around what is asked of us, from the outside world, from our friends and family, and even from ourselves.
Here’s an example. Even if you’re pressed for time, if something comes up that you feel truly needs your attention, you’ll make time for that person or that thing. Whether your friend needs help, your child needs to bring cupcakes to school, or your coworker needs you to cover their shift, you’ll make time if you feel it is important. But, often, we do not include our own self-care in this equation. No matter how noble or important our own things are, we will constantly dismiss them in the service of others. There will never be time for ourselves if we do not set boundaries and create time.
But time is only created when we believe that we are worthy of the investment that it takes to care for ourselves. When we focus on our scarcity or lack of time, we shift our focus from the true limitation which is the inability to prioritize ourselves and make time for our fundamental needs.
Making time is not a matter of scarcity. It is a matter of setting boundaries.
How to Create Time for Yourself
Now that we’ve established that creating time for yourself is a matter of mindset and setting boundaries, let’s look at the practical side of things. You’re still a busy adult with responsibilities that can’t be dismissed, so you need to find time within your schedule, whether that is time you are currently wasting without realizing it or identifying things that aren’t priorities and that can be shifted.
The first step is to find a daily planner. You can purchase one, use an existing one, or download a timesheet online. I recommend one which divides your day into 15-minute time slots. Using your planner, record your daily activities and schedule in great detail, down to the hour or even the minute. Don’t leave anything out.
As you do this, consider things like how long you snooze in the morning before you actually get out of bed, or what you do between errands and while you are waiting for your children. How do you spend your evening? Are you watching TV, checking emails, or scrolling social media?
Once you do this, you will find pockets of time where you are doing mindless activities. This is a place for you to start creating time for yourself and fitting in some of the things you’ve been hoping to do. But this is important: don’t wait for a huge chunk of time. You’ll rarely find a 40- or 60-minute window, so you need to meet yourself where you’re at now. If you only have 15 minutes between errands, then take a 15-minute walk. If you have only 5 minutes in the evening, use that time to pack your lunch for the next day.
Shifting away from this scarcity mindset to prioritizing yourself and your well-being will allow you to create the time you need to get started caring for yourself. Take back your power and know that you deserve that time and the investment that it takes for your own self-care.